10 Tips for Touring Wine Country
Bonus: Download a Glossary of Terms, Fall Harvest Events
Nothing is as exciting as a Fall wine country weekend. The vineyards are a buzz of harvesting activity; many regions host special events. Reservations, appointments, events….it makes your visits more meaningful to have a plan with enough free time baked into it to feel free to veer off the major roads.
Check out below some of the Special Events for September and October in several wine country regions. What am I Drinking This Week? it’s Cabernet Franc.
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10 Tips for Touring Wine County
Tip # 1: Have a Plan
Have reservations for a place to stay near your major winery appointments. Be aware that Fall Hotel bookings are up. The most popular and prestigious wineries require reservations for a tasting. These events are worth it, as they will usually include a portfolio of the wines offered. Some are set in the vineyards, others in their wine library. Select any events that include wine educators.
Tip # 2: Limit Winery Appointments per Day - Recommendations
Limit your “planned” tastings to two per day. 11 AM and 3 PM are great times to schedule, as it gives you enough time at each place plus a 1 PM lunch slot and 7 PM dinner slot. It gives you time to stop off and run in several places for a quick unscheduled tasting as well. If you really want to schedule three visits, 10 AM, 1:30 PM, and 4 PM will work. Check out tip # 3.
Tip # 3: Hydrate! “Dilution Prevents Pollution”
Drink one glass of water for each glass of wine you drink. It’s OK to spit wine you are trying into a spittoon/dump bucket…the professionals do it. Take time for lunch.
Tip # 4: Don’t Leave Your Purchased Wine in the Trunk During Lunch
Give some TLC to those expensive wines you just bought at your favorite Napa Valley winery. Don’t leave them in the trunk during lunch. They will cook. They will be ruined. Restaurants are used to people asking them to stow their wine during lunch. Please do this.
Tip # 5: Don’t Wear Perfume into the Tasting Room
It’s terrible to be in the middle of a tasting and have someone walk in the room with heavy perfume. All of a sudden, all your wines smell like that person. Aroma and taste are the keys to great wines. Those of us that have been wine judges know the rules pertaining to any type of body spray – no perfume, cologne, or scents allowed.
Tip # 6: Seek Out Smaller Boutique Wineries
I have had some of my best wine adventures at small, unique, out of the way wineries. Check out Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery, Napa Valley. Also see Lange Winery: a Family Affair Thrives at the Top of Willamette Valley.
Tip # 7: Don’t Wear White Shirts or Dresses to a Tasting
Even the best wine swirler will get red stains on their shirt. Why do you see so many sommeliers wearing black? This is the reason.
Tip # 8: Eat Breakfast Before You Leave for the Day
Have something substantial before your wine tasting day starts. Be sure to bring something to snack on such as crackers, a baguette, and cheese. Be courteous to not picnic at a winery with another winery’s wine. Take time for lunch, too.
Tip # 9: Have a Designated Driver or Driving Service
Wine country police are everywhere, and you want to be safe.
Tip # 10: Trust Your Own Opinions
If you like a wine and your friends don’t, who cares? It’s your opinion that counts. A “good” wine is the wine you like. Don’t worry if you don’t think you know about wine. Buy what you want and trust your own palate.
Special Fall Wine Events:
What am I Drinking This Week?
It’s still very warm in Texas, but I’m drinking a Cabernet Franc to warm up to the reds of Fall. Here are some favorites:
2019 Catena Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc, Mendoza Argentina, $22
Robert Parker, 93 Points – Try their Malbec, too
2018 Crocker & Starr AVA Cabernet Franc Red Blend, Napa Valley, $58
Wine Spectator, 92 points – I am a huge fan of this winery.
2019 Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve, Virginia, $30
James Suckling, 92 Points
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